Scott Miller depends on friends

May 8, 2012

Scott Miller has performed in Greater Cincinnati in many configurations: with the V-Roys, as the leader of the Commonwealth and as a solo act.

He will try something new Friday night when he plays Molly Malone’s in Covington with Rayna Gellert, a fiddle and viola player who also adds harmony vocals.

“I’ve only met a few players like this in all my time,” says Miller, who will visit the WNKU studio during the 2 p.m. hour Friday. “She can feel her way through anything, then she’ll play it and ... it seems like she’s known it the whole time.

“I met her when I was doing the West Virginia Mountain Stage and she was playing with Abigail Washburn. She was like ‘Hey, I’ve heard of you. My husband’s a big fan.’ ”

If the five songs on the pair’s EP, “CoDependents,” is any indication, Gellert’s husband will have plenty of company. Miller is a thoroughly entertaining performer, but is the first to admit that he has “... never been a musician, you know. I’ve taken three chords as far as I can.”

Miller has built a solid career on those three chords and a gift for lively lyrics, but Gellert lifts the songs more than a notch above standard acoustic guitar tunes. 

“Her take on some of the older songs really makes them fun for me to play again,” Miller says. “She is really a great musician, which I am not, so it’s pretty awesome.”

Miller sounds reenergized by that collaboration, and the new record he’s recording with guitar ace Doug Lancio (John Hiatt, Patty Griffin) in Nashville.

“(Lancio’s) writing more of the music and I’m just coming in and writing lyrics. It will be totally different than anything I’ve ever done and everyone will hate it,” Miller laughs. 

“He creates a lot of it with just guitars and drums ... and I’ll go in and write to it. Something will hit me right away or I’ll take in a couple of half-ass songs that I’ve been pushin’ together and make something to it. But it’s no rules; I don’t have to write a Scott Miller song or tell a story or anything. I’ve been really diggin’ it.”

Miller will return to Nashville to finish the album after this run of shows. After that, it’s likely he will return to the road in one incarnation or another.

“People always ask ‘Is it hard to be on the road?’ And I’ll say it’s really not; the hardest part is coming off and going back on. Once you get 48 hours underneath you, you don’t worry about what’s in your mailbox. There is a natural groove to everything, you find it.”

And it’s easier to find that groove with help from friends, whether on the road or in the studio.

Scott Miller and Rayna Gellert, 8 p.m. Friday, Molly Malone’s, 112 E. Fourth St., Covington. $18 ($15 advance);